What are Nerf Guns?
Nerf guns, or “blasters”, are dart guns that shoot ammunition made from a special Nerf foam. Dating back to 1969, the weapons and foam ammunition are all brightly colored, due to the fact that they became highly popular in the 70s.
Nerf actually stands for "non-expanding recreational foam". The foam is made by combining polyester resin with a proprietary compound and CO2. The gas creates open pockets within the polyurethane that helps to make the material light and soft.
The vast majority of the “blasters” and weaponry sold today are made by Nerf. Nerf’s largest rivals include BoomCo (Mattel’s foray into the market) and Buzz Bee Toys. However, through its Nerf line, Hasbro effectively has the foam weaponry market cornered.
Nerf Wars 101
Who doesn’t love a good Nerf war? Whether you play using blasters only or you decide to add in more advanced weaponry—like crazy-fast firing automatic blasters, shotguns, or even “grenades”—Nerf wars are fun for the entire family!
Most Nerf wars tend to be informal, and they take place at home, in the office, or in the backyard. However, some people tend to organize them, using larger venues like gyms, schools, forests, public parks, and so on. Any large room can be turned into a Nerf battleground—all it takes is some overturned furniture, a collection of blasters, and a steady supply of ammunition.
While the average Nerf war is an impromptu thing—no rules, free-for-all, and it only stops once the ammo runs out—there are organized wars that are established by the Nerf Internet Community (NIC). The NIC is made up of bloggers and forum users of sites dedicated to Nerf in all its fun. It holds wars on both the West and East Coast every year, and some communities organize monthly or bi-annual wars in their local area. They have even begun to create a set of rules, regulations, and Nerf war games that are becoming “standardized”—thus giving Nerf wars the same coherence and structure that has made games like paintball or laser tag so enjoyable.
Are Nerf Guns Dangerous?
Nerf enthusiasts alike will tell you, “No, Nerf guns can’t possibly be dangerous! After all, they’re made from soft foam and tipped with suction cups. How could that hurt anyone?”
However, the truth is that there are some inherent dangers to using Nerf guns. Like any projectile weapon, they can be very dangerous for your eyes. Some doctors warn that Nerf darts can actually do damage to the eyes. One British doctor spoke of three cases where patients came into his hospital with “serious eye injuries” as a result of Nerf guns. The doctor even went so far as to question whether protective eyewear might be needed to prevent eye injuries.
In recent years, a wide range of YouTube instructional videos have surfaced giving instructions on how to modify the Nerf guns. These modifications, or “mods”, may actually circumvent safety features designed to protect users, thereby making the darts fly faster and thus increasing the risk of injury.
Off-brand darts can also lead to a higher risk of injuries. While Nerf tends to make its darts with soft tips or suction cups, third-party dart makers typically seek to make projectiles that shoot faster, fly farther, and hit harder. Using these darts can increase injury risk.
However, aside from this risk of injury to the eyes, there are very few other causes for concern with Nerf foam darts. The concerns boil down to two things:
- Nerf foam darts are small enough to be a choking hazard for babies and toddlers.
- The foam in the darts MAY cause allergic reactions that can trigger anaphylaxis.
The former is a very serious concern for households with infants—after all, babies and toddlers love to put bright-colored things into their mouths. The solution: if you have very small children, keep the Nerf wars outside the house and well away from them.
The latter is highly rare; people with latex allergies may experience negative symptoms when they come in contact with the foam in Nerf darts. However, there are too few cases for it to be a serious concern.
Nerf Gun Safety Tips
If you want to enjoy all the fun of Nerf wars without any of the risks, here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:
Never look down the barrel. This is basic Nerf blaster safety! Even if you are fairly certain the blaster isn’t loaded, it’s better never to look down the barrel and risk accidental discharge that could injure your eyes.
Stick with Nerf darts. Avoid buying off-brand darts if you want to keep your Nerf battles or wars safe for all parties involved. The fact that they fly faster and hit harder may mean they’re going to raise injury risk should anyone get hit in the eye.
Aim for the body. Just as in paintball, it’s better to avoid aiming for the head just to ensure everyone playing is safe. If you aim for the body, there’s a far lower risk you’ll hit someone in the eye.
Consider wearing safety glasses. If you’re going to be using the higher-powered blasters, rifles, machine guns, and shotguns, it may be a good idea to wear safety glasses to protect your eyes.
Only shoot at people playing the game. Don’t shoot bystanders, innocent passersby, or people not playing the game. You may find yourself having to explain your actions to the police if someone calls the cops on you.
Only play in safe areas. Make sure that your Nerf wars take place indoors or in outdoor locations that are safe. Don’t play near cliffs, ravines, bodies of water, waterfalls, roads, or highways. When playing indoors, be aware of staircases and other potentially dangerous locations.
Be safe, and your Nerf wars will be a whole lot of fun without any risk of injury or accident!
Which is the Most Powerful Nerf Gun Ever?
The Nerf N-Strike Vulcan EBF-25 Blaster holds the title of the most powerful Nerf gun ever. With its built-in pneumatic pump (powered by six D-batteries), it comes with an automatic feeder belt with 25 darts that can be fired in the space of just 10 seconds. Its range is adequate at best (35-40 feet), but with its rapid fire and massive power, it’s definitely a gun you want to wield in battle.
Which is the Fastest Nerf Gun?
The title of fastest-firing Nerf gun is shared by two different weapons:
Nerf Hyperfire can empty its 25-round drum magazine in just over 5 seconds (5:15, according to one test). The flywheel has to be spun (using a secondary trigger) before you start firing, but once it’s spinning, you can fire all 25 darts off in just a matter of seconds.
Nerf MAG-STRIKE AS-10 is fully automatic and can empty its entire 10-dart clip in just over a second. That gives it a firing rate of around 600 rounds per minute, making it the fastest-firing Nerf blaster. However, given its small clip, it runs out of ammo instantly.
Which is the Biggest Nerf Gun?
Nerf has made a number of big Nerf guns—from the Mega Mastodon to the Doomlands—but the biggest Nerf gun in the world was actually made by a guy named Mark Rober.
(Note: This isn’t a Hasbro-licensed gun, simply a Nerf dart-firing gun designed to look like one of the most popular Nerf gun models.)
Mark Rober made the world’s largest functional Nerf gun using wood for the gun stock, PVC for the barrels, and a 3000 psi paintball tank that uses compressed air to fire the massive darts—which are made by securing toilet plungers to the end of pool noodles. The gun fires at around 40 MPH and has a range of close to 130 yards.
See it here: https://youtu.be/57MKxz4pJKE
How to Modify Your Nerf Gun
Modifying, or “modding” Nerf guns has become hugely popular among the Nerf Internet Community in the last few years. Modding Nerf guns can do everything from increasing firing speed to enhancing range to boosting firepower. Then, of course, many users like to paint their Nerf guns to make them look more “real”—covering up those bright oranges, yellows, and blues with black, silver, bronze, or camo paint.
Here are a few of the more popular mods you can research to upgrade your weapons for your next Nerf war:
Enhanced Ammo – Adding weights to your foam darts can help them fly faster and hit more accurately, not to mention deliver a more noticeable punch to your enemies. The safest mod is to add BBs into the hollow shafts of the darts. Less safe is the addition of a glob of hot glue on the tip of the dart. In the former case, the mod is mostly safe, as long as the BBs remain in the shaft. However, in the latter’s case, the dried hot glue can actually leave marks or scratches on your targets.
Stronger Spring – For the spring-fired guns, adding a stronger spring can do wonders to increase the effective range of fire. Adding in a 20-pound spring (or a few of them!) will give you a much better range, though you’ll likely need to reinforce the gun using PVC pipe, as the added kick on the spring-loaded firing mechanisms could damage the gun. This is the simplest mod for any blaster!
Barrel Mods – The cheap plastic barrels used in Nerf guns aren’t great at holding in air, and they tend to break fairly quickly once you start upgrading or modding the gun. Swapping the plastic barrel out for another one—say a brass, PVC, or copper barrel—will do wonders to upgrade your gun. Not only will it be more durable, but it will be a better fit for the darts. The tighter the fit, the more the air will build up behind the dart, generating more force to push it farther and send it flying faster.
Removing Air Restrictors – Air restrictors are installed by Hasbro to prevent the gun from being too powerful. Basically, it allows half the air generated in the pump-fired guns to escape. Removing the air restrictor is a somewhat complex process—see the instructional steps here—but it can be done for just about every Nerf model. Once it’s removed, the blaster will be able to fire at full air power, meaning more powerful and farther-flying shots.
Homemade Darts – Homemade darts are known as “Stefans” and can be made out of a ½” foam backer rod (used for electrical wires). These rods tend to come in lengths of 20 feet, which can be turned into about 75 individual darts. Use the tip of a hot glue gun to poke holes into the ends, add a BB into one side, and glue it up (with a foam tip) to finish off the dart.
Improved Seal – All Nerf guns use a rubber O-ring to create a seal against the tube that holds the plunger. Unfortunately, the cheap O-ring isn’t totally airtight, so it allows air to escape. All you have to do is buy a new O-ring of the right size and install it yourself. Use a second O-ring on the plunger head to guarantee an airtight seal. With the air sealed into the tube, you’ll get a lot more bang every time you pull that trigger!
Lengthened Ammo Feeder Belt – Most of the Nerf ammo feeder belts are sized to fit 25 darts, which limits the amount of ammunition you’ll get for your gun. However, you can actually build your own ammo feeder by connecting two or more feeder belts together. Simply remove the blank holders at the end of each belt, slice the nylon on each end to ¼”, then stitch the nylon belts together using sturdy thread. As long as the blank holders are exactly half an inch apart, you’ll get a belt that feeds through your Nerf machine gun smoothly and easily. You can stich belts together to make the feeder belt as long as you want—upwards of 100 darts in one go!